Do You Speak Bloglish?
Do you understand the “language” that consumers use when passionately discussing products or services in your category? What are the hot topics (meaning pleasure or pain) in these conversations? Who are the influencers, and who are the participants? Where are these conversations taking place? Are your competitors participating?
Are you, and should you?
Without a doubt, social media is making its mark. Small and large advertisers alike are talking about it. Some are blindly forging the way, and many are watching from the sidelines—confused, scared and unsure of if and how to join the game. New (spurring up daily) and existing (in business from yesterday) social media services startups aggressively are scheduling meetings and holding panels to trot out their technologies or talk about best practices, further encouraging the blind and confusing the confused.
The good news in all of this development is that social media is here to stay, so if you don’t join tomorrow, there will be plenty of opportunity to do so the next day. Furthermore, don’t despair about your lack of experience in the space; tried and tested marketing principles (and good common sense) apply in this channel, just like they have in every other one for decades.
So before you rush into developing a Facebook page (the most common knee-jerk reaction) for your brand/product or “seeding” a few random blogs (the next most common reaction of either the brave or foolish), think about what social media means to your organization. Don’t forget that you cannot manage it if you don’t measure it, and you can’t measure it if you don’t define it. Most importantly, you can’t manage it profitably if you don’t know what drives it.
The right place to start is to define what matters to your organization, measure it and truly understand it. In other words, listen before you act. Immerse yourself in conversations about your category (topics that matter to your business) and your target audience (topics that matter to your key target audience). Learn "Bloglish," i.e., understand the language of your customers.
The technology and tools are out there, but before you employ them, you need to specify what questions you want to answer. Here are few must-asks for your social media planning:
• What is being talked about—key topics in terms of your products and services, plus ancillary topics? Pain points vs. passion points? How do they change over time?
• How are these topics related (likely to be inside the same conversations)?
• What is the presence of your brand/offering? You vs. competitors vs. the overall category?
• Who is talking about it (authors/influencers)? What are their reach and pull?
• Where are these conversations taking place (posts vs. dialogue)?
• Are your customers participating? If so, where? What is their social media profile?
The answers to the above questions will lead to your overall social media strategy and tactics. What you learn will not only influence your social media activities, but can and should influence your overall marketing strategy. Social media represents a great platform to engage your customers, but it is also a great research tool—it is an unfiltered, unmoderated, real-time and quantitative focus group. There are a ton of insights to be had.
But first, learn "Bloglish." It is the right place to start.
Slavi Samardzija is a senior vice president and director of insights and optimization at Wunderman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.